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  • Check out this 2012 Guide to Pesticides in Food, which includes the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" - fruits and vegetables with the most and least pesticide residue, respectively. These residues are measured after washing or peeling. Among the most pesticide-contaminated produce items are apples, peaches, and peppers; onions, avocado, and corn are among the cleaner items. But the EWG's conclusion encourages fruit and vegetable consumption even if buying conventional items is unavoidable - the health benefits of eating lots of produce outweighs the possible dangers of small quantities of pesticides.
  • This week, the Senate passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill. Food movement activists are happy that several local food and hunger programs were funded, and that there was some reform to commodity payment programs that support "Big Ag". However, several conservation programs were cut and there remains much contention over the necessary level of funding for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). As the House begins debate on their version of the Bill, many activists are concerned that more progressive programs that support smaller farmers and communities will be put on the chopping block.
  • To get a better idea of what sorts of programs were being debated in the Senate Farm Bill discussions, check out this incredible Farm Bill Primer. The website contains all the proposed amendments. You can sort by home state, which provides an interesting look at what sorts of programs are being prioritized around the country. The homepage also provides a link to a Farm Bill budget visualizer, which shows the comparative funding of all Farm Bill programs.
  • Product labeling is an interesting and contested area of food policy. So a new report from Mintel on the top 50 claims on U.S. food and drink products reveals important trends in food marketing and consumer activity. In 2011, almost 30% of products had a kosher claim, and environmentally-friendly, all-natural, and "no additives" claims each graced 13% of product labels. The number of organic-labeled products has been decreasing significantly since 2008.
  • China has been dealing with a huge number of food safety issues in food production and processing plants across the country. Chinese authorities have reported over 15,000 cases of contaminated food and shut down 5,700 unlicensed businesses so far this year. Products as varied as infant formula and green peas have been laced with toxins, causing a rightful public outcry.

About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.

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